Israeli elections a referendum on Netanyahu’s political fate


>>Sreenivasan: TWO DAYS BEFORE
NATIONWIDE ELECTIONS, ISRAELI
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN
NETANYAHU IS RALLYING HIS BASE
OF FAR-RIGHT SUPPORTERS.
NETANYAHU CONVENED A CABINET
MEETING IN THE OCCUPIED WEST
BANK TODAY, AN AREA THAT HE SAYS
HE WOULD ANNEX IF RE-ELECTED.
HIS PLAN INCLUDES BUILDING A NEW
SETTLEMENT IN AN AREA WHICH
WOULD BE THE CENTER OF ANY
FUTURE PALESTINIAN STATE.
OFFICIALS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF
ISLAMIC COOPERATION CONDEMNED
NETANYAHU’S PLAN AT AN EMERGENCY
MEETING IN SAUDI ARABIA.
THE SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER
CALLED IT A “DANGEROUS
ESCALATION THAT ENDANGERS ALL OF
THE EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE A JUST
AND LASTING PEACE.”
WITH MORE ON THE LEAD UP TO
TUESDAY’S ELECTION IN ISRAEL,
NEWSHOUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
RYAN CHILCOTE JOINS US NOW VIA
SKYPE FROM TEL AVIV.
RYAN, WE’RE TWO DAYS AWAY, WHAT
ARE THE BIG ISSUES THAT ARE
DRIVING THIS ELECTION AND WHY
ARE YOU SITTING WHERE YOU’RE
SITTING?
>>WELL, I JUST–
(LAUGHS)
I AM SITTING IN A TIKI BAR, YES,
I KNOW, JUST OUTSIDE OF A
BUILDING WHERE THE LEADER OF THE
BLUE AND WHITE PARTY HELD A
CAMPAIGN RALLY.
HE IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGER TO
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, THE PRIME
MINISTER, AND THE BIGGEST ISSUE
THAT YOU WERE ASKING ABOUT IN
THIS CAMPAIGN IS BENJAMIN
NETANYAHU HIMSELF.
BECAUSE HE IS ISRAEL’S LONGEST
SERVING PRIME MINISTER, AND YET
THE QUESTION IS WILL HE BE ABLE
TO FORM A GOVERNMENT.
THERE WAS AN ELECTION IN THIS
COUNTRY BACK IN APRIL, JUST FIVE
MONTHS AGO AND HE FAILED TO DO
THAT.
SO HE CALLED THIS ELECTION TO
SEE IF HE COULD DO IT THE SECOND
TIME AROUND.
MEANWHILE, HE’S ALSO FACING A
WHOLE HOST OF CORRUPTION CHARGES
AND JUST NEXT MONTH, IN JUST A
FEW WEEKS TIME, IN FACT, HE IS
GOING TO SEE THOSE LEGAL
PROCEEDINGS BEGIN AND HE IS
FACING THE PROSPECT OF THREE
INDICTMENTS FOR TAKING BRIBES
AND PEDDLING INFLUENCE.
SO THE REAL THING IN THIS
ELECTION IS DO THE ISRAELI
VOTERS CARE ENOUGH ABOUT THAT TO
TOPPLE HIM.
>>Sreenivasan: YOU’VE GOT
INFORMATION NOW THAT HE JUST HAD
A CABINET MEETING INSIDE THE
WEST BANK AND HE’S LAYING OUT
THIS PLAN THAT’S SAYING, LISTEN,
I WANT TO ANNEX THIS TERRITORY
IF I’M ELECTED, I WANT TO PUT A
SETTLEMENT HERE.
THESE ARE PRETTY BOLD
STATEMENTS.
>>SO, IT IS A BOLD MOVE TO GO
OUT THERE AND SAY THAT WE’RE
GOING TO DO THIS.
THE FACT IS THAT THE BENEFIT
THAT THE LIKUD PARTY, THE PRIME
MINISTER COULD GET SAYING THIS
JUST TWO DAYS BEFORE THE
ELECTION IS GREATER THAN THE
COST OF ANY POTENTIAL
INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION.
YOU MENTION THAT HE IS SAYING
THIS IN THE JORDAN VALLEY, WHICH
IS ALSO IN THE WEST BANK, HE
JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO WAS
TALKING ABOUT ANNEXING THE
JORDAN VALLEY.
THAT AMOUNTS TO ABOUT A THIRD OF
THE WEST BANK.
THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS VERY
POPULAR, IN FACT, IN ISRAEL
ITSELF, AND SO IT IS A CAMPAIGN
MOVE.
IT’S A CAMPAIGN PROMISE THAT NOT
EVERYONE HERE TAKES TOO
SERIOUSLY BECAUSE AT THE END OF
THE DAY IT’S NOT CLEAR THAT HE
WOULD ACTUALLY DO IT OR WHETHER
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WOULD
ALLOW HIM TO.
THOUGH I HAVE TO SAY THAT THE
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN
MORE ACCOMMODATING THAN ANY
ADMINISTRATION IN RECENT HISTORY
WHEN IT COMES TO ISRAEL’S PLANS
IN THE WEST BANK AND THE GAZA
STRIP.
>>Sreenivasan: SPEAKING OF
PRESIDENT TRUMP, DOES HIS
SUPPORT– IN TWEETS AND
OTHERWISE– DOES IT RESONATE,
DOES IT MATTER WITH THE
ELECTORATE IN ISRAEL?
>>I THINK IT DOES.
PRESIDENT TRUMP IS VERY POPULAR
HERE.
PEOPLE LIKE HIM.
THEY CONSIDER HIM TO BE THE BEST
FRIEND THAT ISRAEL HAS EVER HAD.
THEY THOUGHT THAT PRESIDENT
OBAMA WAS VERY HARD ON ISRAEL.
IN CONTRAST, IN 2017 PRESIDENT
TRUMP CAME HERE.
AND SO, HE HAS A BIG INFLUENCE
ON THINGS.
AND, YOU KNOW, CLEARLY BENJAMIN
NETANYAHU IN THE RUN-UP TO THIS
ELECTION HAS BEEN BANKING ON
THAT.
YOU DRIVE AROUND TEL AVIV AND
JERUSALEM AND THERE ARE
BILLBOARDS WITH THE TWO OF THEM
EVERYWHERE.
>>Sreenivasan: ALRIGHT,
ANYTHING WE SHOULD WATCH FOR
THIS WEEK?
>>YES, WE WANT TO WATCH FOR HOW
MANY VOTES BENJAMIN NETANYAHU OR
ANY OF THE OTHER PEOPLE RUNNING,
THE OTHER PARTIES, GET, HOW MANY
SEATS THEY GET IN THE
PARLIAMENT.
IT’S CALLED THE KNESSET, THERE
ARE 120 SEATS IN IT, IN ORDER TO
FORM A GOVERNMENT YOU HAVE TO
HAVE 61 SEATS.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU WASN’T ABLE
TO DO THAT BACK IN APRIL.
HE IS HOPING TO DO THAT THIS
TIME, BUT THE POLLS SAY THAT IT
IS UNLIKELY TO HAPPEN.
SO WHAT IS MOST LIKELY TO HAPPEN
AFTER THAT IS A WHOLE LOT OF
HORSE TRADING WHERE EITHER
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU OR BENNY
GANTZ WHO HAD HIS RALLY TODAY
TRY AND BUILD A COALITION TO GET
THOSE 61 SEATS SO THEY CAN FORM
A GOVERNMENT AND TAKE THIS
COUNTRY OUT OF THE POLITICAL
IMPASSE IT HAS BEEN IN FOR
MONTHS NOW.
>>Sreenivasan: ALRIGHT, RYAN
CHILCOTE JOINING US VIA SKYPE
FROM TEL AVIV TONIGHT, THANKS SO
MUCH.
>>THANK YOU.

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